Norse myths and pretty production can’t spice up this tepid teen drama, which proves an international dud for Netflix.
This review of Ragnarok Season 1 is entirely spoiler-free.
It brings me no pleasure to report that Ragnarok (Netflix), a show set against a stunning Norwegian backdrop and boasting a title redolent of the Norse end of days, is a bit rubbish. But such is the way of things when it comes to international streaming — you never quite know. Ragnarok Season 1, and I say that because the possibility of a sophomore outing is very real, seems designed to lure an audience with the promise of mythological fury and just hope they stick around through the half-baked mysteries and teen romances to eventually discover that they’re not going to get what they were looking for. Maybe next year.
Thanks to a limited episode order, the show at least gets right to business. We have brothers Laurits (Jonas Strand Gravli) and Magne (David Stakston), quaint made-up towns, the powers of the Norse Gods, love triangles, a climate change angle, exposition, and the promise of an entirely different show that Ragnarok never quite becomes.
It’s the teen drama that occupies much of six episodes here, with only light smatterings of action and a tokenistic layer of all the cool thunder and lightning you think of when the Norse pantheon comes up. Almost all of this stuff is delivered in clunky exposition. A young cast isn’t able to sell the grandiosity of these enduring myths either, leaving the show’s drama feeling tepid and inert.
Thank goodness, then, for some superior production, with Ragnarok boasting lovely backdrops, smart use of aesthetic juxtaposition, and respectable VFX. A decent amount of money was evidently injected into this show and it hasn’t been badly spent. But for all the show’s visual and thematic flourish, its writing is far from godly, and the overall effect is less mythological epic than seen-it-all-before teen melodrama with the occasional hint of how much better it might have been.